State senators are weighing how tough a law they can realistically hope to pass targeting meth. They want to make it harder to get the drug’s key ingredient—the cold medicine pseudoephedrine.
The Senate has looked at all kinds of ways to limit pseudoephedrine—some a good bit more restrictive than the governor’s. In a meeting of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, Sen. Randy McNally signed off on the Haslam administration’s proposal only reluctantly, saying he wished it could be tougher:
“This is about the bottom threshold that I’m willing to go. It is an improvement, but it’s not what some states have done such as Oregon and Mississippi.”
Those states have simply required prescriptions.
Senators are concerned because efforts to drastically cut pseudoephedrine sales have struggled to gain traction in the House. Some headway came this week, when a somewhat tougher bill was allowed to pass out of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, but that version was still less restrictive than Gov. Haslam’s initial proposal.
Part of the tension stems from the pharmaceutical lobby, which argues lawmakers shouldn’t make their products less available, saying to do so effectively punishes law-abiding allergy sufferers for the misdeeds of meth dealers.
In the House meeting, Rep. David Hawk was essentially asked to guarantee he wouldn’t let the bill be made more restrictive by subsequent amendments later in the legislative process. Hawk refused, effectively leaving open the possibility of a tougher rule.